The crisis in Cuba is weighing on the performance of its farmers, an important factor for food security, which supports the spiral of shortages, inflation and bulk shipment of agricultural products.
Producers like Lázaro Sánchez, face daily lack of fuel, problems in obtaining fertilizers and pesticides, and even delays in payments from the State.
In Cuba, the state has an important role in the entire production process, since it is the supplier of inputs and the buyer of crops, even if the land is in private hands.
Many economists do not believe that in the current situation this system is relevant and effective. EFE has requested an interview with the Ministry of Agriculture and so far has not received a response.
From his family’s farm in Guanabacoa, outside of Havana, Sánchez explained to EFE that sometimes he can’t get hold of pesticides, mostly imported products, because the boys warning “before other crops such as potatoes, cane and tobacco.” exposed to pests.
This farmer produces vegetables, rice and tubers and has a contract with the State that allows him to apply for loans, equipment and sell his products.
Although he defends the price now better for him than before, he regrets that a few months ago he sold a unit of cabbage to the State for 25 Cuban pesos (about about a dollar at the exchange rate), but that “it took. more than three months to pay it.”
“I lost the money I paid for the farmers’ wages, in addition to the investment that took time to recover,” he complained.
Like Sánchez, there are many farmers in Cuba who complain about the conditions in which they are currently working.
The effects of the global pandemic, the US sanctions and the wrong internal trade policy have led Cuba to many crises that have led to months of shortages of Big business – from medicine to oil, through food -, high inflation and more. dollarization.
Currently, barely 48.7% of arable land is cultivated in Cuba.
Minister of Agriculture Ydael Pérez has confirmed that 2021 is one of the worst years for food production in the last decade, despite the important crops in Cuba such as sugar and tobacco.
The government, which approved the Food Security Law this year, has confirmed that “Cuban agriculture does not achieve the necessary production levels to meet the demand for products for the centers different.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recently estimated that the Caribbean island must come up to 80% of what it uses.
Orelvis Morales has a field that is connected to the Credit and Services Cooperative, a type of agricultural management in which the producers are the owners of the land, but deal with contracting services and doing the process by the State.
This retired army man who lives in Bauta (west) told EFE that he sends to the State up to six liters of milk a day from almost 40 he produces. The State pays 9 pesos per liter if the quota is met, but only 7.50.
Morales, who admits that the equipment is not enough, explained, however, that he continued his “hobby” for farming and growing vegetables, tubers, corn, avocado and even planted 4,000 bushes of roses.
natural price is high
Sánchez sells a hand (pack) of bananas to the State for 15 pesos and on the street it is easy around 30.
According to the testimony collected by EFE, in the country and in different places, the jump will be more: the food in the market increases up to three times the price agreed with the farmer.
“People complain about the price and criticize the farmers,” complains Sánchez.
The Cuban government does not regularly publish the Consumer Price Index (CPI), but the authorities have confirmed that in 2021 inflation will reach 70% in business management and professionals estimated that in the market it is more than 500%.
This reversal has many reasons: from the uncertainty itself to the use of delivery, from the inconsistent use of the state network of stores that sell the products traded in foreign currencies only.
Currently, a box of 30 eggs can cost in the informal market between 800 and 1,000 Cuban pesos (between 33 and 41 dollars at an exchange rate of 24 pesos to one dollar), a pound (450 grams) of tomatoes about 150 pesos (6, 25 dollars) and a pound of pork can reach 300 pesos ($12.5).
These prices have been increasing for months and increase almost daily – like many other bases – in a country where the minimum wage is around 2,100 pesos (87 dollars) and the pension is 1,528 pesos (almost 64 dollars).
The Cuban State contributed a lot of money through the supply of books, but this basket was reduced and did not include basic needs at all.
Last year, the Cuban government approved 63 measures to increase agriculture and reduce spending on food imports, which is more than 2,000 million dollars a year.
The package includes reducing electricity and water costs for farmers, reducing the cost of animal feed, and allowing farmers to trade beef, milk, and dairy products after selling their share to the state.
For economist Tamarys Lien, the situation in Cuban agriculture is linked to other structural problems and requires a more comprehensive solution.
“The crisis in agriculture has an impact on energy and fuel shortages, but also on work and information on the integration of these sectors of the economy,” he confirmed to EFE.
In his opinion, “we must present the opportunities given to farmers and the freedom to act and the way in which they must create contracts, whether with the local government or foreign investors.”
That the State is “the first buyer of agricultural products makes no sense or reason in this, and it should be removed.”
Along these lines, the economist Omar Everleny decided in an interview with EFE as a “restriction” that the State “provides farmers with oil, seeds and the box to store the tomatoes, in addition to the purchase of most goods (of the product). and set the price.
In this world, “financial measures without support, to trade or agriculture, there will be no growth of the Local Product that the economy needs and then transfer to public health.”
For Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, the situation in the country “is not a simple temporary situation that is solved with a list of measures.”
“The crisis in agriculture requires the development of modern agriculture, including changes in the economy (property and market) and investment, more investment,” concluded the expert.